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Red-tailed Hawk

Buteo jamaicensis


As shown in Photo 1 and 4, this Red-tailed Hawk is on the look-out for smaller birds that were harassing the hawk (see Photo 3). The hawk flew to a nearby tree (see Photos 4-5); the smaller birds followed. Hide in plain sight must be this hawk's modus operandi, 'cuz it was a sitting duck at its new location. The hawk's hackles are raised in Photo 5, indicating it is angry after being pecked by a mockingbird. (The idiom "get your hackles up" means "to get angry.") Hey, life is not necessarily a picnic at the top of the food chain!


Dyke Marsh Wildlife Preserve, a wetland area located near the Nation's Capital. Related Resource:


Copyright © 2012 Walter Sanford. All rights reserved.

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Geodialist 12 years ago

That's more good raptor knowledge, Christy! Seriously, thanks for the detailed reply. So, you're a volunteer at a raptor rehabilitation center. Who knew? That explains why you favorite so many birds of prey! What is the name of the facility, and does it have a Web site?

ChristyHolland 12 years ago

I was kind of joking about the learning, but he is a youngster! I've been around raptors for about 15 years (I'm a volunteer at a raptor rehab center)...but I still get IDs wrong sometimes!! Generally, you can't know a gender exactly unless you either see her lay an egg or do an internal exam...or if you see them mating, it's kind of obvious! Raptor females are usually larger than males, so if you see them together, you can estimate, however there are always big males and small females...Kestrels and Harriers are two of the only raptors that have different colors between male and female...Barn Owls and Osprey can sometimes be different... As far as age for this one, he will get his red tail this year, and his eyes will darken...that will take a couple years though. Most raptors get their adult plumage within a year or two...eagles take about 5 years. After they're an adult, it's incredibly hard to tell their age. Sorry for bombarding you...but you asked! ;-)

Geodialist 12 years ago

That's good raptor knowledge, Christy! How can you tell the hawk's age and gender?

ChristyHolland 12 years ago

Great series!! He's a juvenile (last year's baby), so he was learning how to avoid the pests!! Wonderful!!

Geodialist 12 years ago

The hawk was so concerned with me and my camera (see Photo 2 and 3) that it didn't notice the Blue Jay about to launch a sneak attack from behind -- a painful mistake that motivated the hawk to fly to another tree!

annorion 12 years ago

Nice story! I like the third pic with the blue jay perched behind the hawk.

Spotted by

Belle Haven, Virginia, USA

Spotted on Apr 27, 2012
Submitted on Apr 30, 2012

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